Define your happiness with flexibility for success – Integrally Alive Podcast

Last week we talked about setting a direction for ourselves in a permaculture way. So now you know where you are going… How will you know you have succeeded? HOW ELSE?

Today is all about flexibility to maximize your happiness and success.

Recently I was coaching a round of a Mindvalley quest on the human diet and our relationship to food: WildFit. Often participants have a weight-loss goal in joining this program. Sometimes a very specific number of kilos.

During the program, invariably, other things happen as well. Their skin and hair get better, they feel less tired, some health issues get sorted… All sorts of improvements.

But many times they don’t see it until I ask. It might sound surprising, because it seems obvious, right?

Part of it is because it is happening over time, gradually, so it is not until they pause to look back at before the challenge, that they realize that in the end, it makes a big difference.

More than anything, it is because while you’re busy looking at the finger, you will never see the moon. If they have set one factor of checking for success, and it is not there, then it is a failure. The more specific your checklist gets, the more it turns into a recipe for failure.

Tunneled vision makes you blind

Tunneled vision often called tunnel vision, in medical terms, is the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision. It happens naturally when we need to focus intensely, under stress. (and by the way, therefore a simple tip to de-stress is to intentionally soften your vision, using your peripheral vision)

A study shows that the change in vision affects the audition, too. So your attention bandwidth is narrowing, in all of your sensory inputs. We call it tunnel vision, but it is really tunnel senses. And our sensory input create our reality. We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we perceive it.

This physical phenomena, happens in the mind too. Having a vision is great. It moves you forward, gives you both the motivation and the inspiration to create something in your life. The problems is when this vision becomes to narrow, into a tunnel vision It has many repercussions, and can happen in a few different ways. It always involves being blind to anything that is outside the tunnel.

For example, for the participants in the challenge I mentioned before, they want to change their relationship to food.

Let’s say that Bob is one of them, and his only proof that this has happened, is having lost twenty kilos. He will easily ignore everything else that is happening in the direction of improving his relationship to food. He might even not take weight-loss in account so much, because: “Yeah, but it is only two kilos. I need to lose eighteen more.”.

So if at the end of the challenge, let’s say, as it usually happens, he has got rid of his cravings, has a better digestion, sleep and energy level, lost more kilos than ever… He might still feel like he failed, because his only target wasn’t achieved.

Which, just in case you wonder, I don’t let happen of course, because during the challenge I teach and train the participants to get out of tunnel vision.

In the worst scenario, tunnel vision turns into what Timothy Leary and then Robert Anton Wilson called a reality tunnel, which we are all experiencing to some degree. But we want this reality tunnel to be as wide as possible, and at least, be aware that we are experiencing a reality tunnel. That this is not reality as it is, only what we perceive it through our personal filter and call reality.

I will probably come back to reality tunnels, also because when the tunnel narrows down more and more, it eventually leads to suicidal ideation, with the thinking that there is only one solution to our problems… A case of very bad use of our imagination and creative potential.

Let’s go back to tunnel vision.

How to apply your knowledge of tunnel vision to support your intentions

Two simple steps:

1 First focus on the direction, not the vehicle

Remember the permaculture principles from last week? One of them was “Design from patterns to details”. Basically you want to be sure that your overarching goal, your highest intention, is your why, not your how.

So for Bob for example, “loosing twenty kilos” is not his ultimate goal. His ultimate goal could be: “Improving my relationship to food.”, or “Get healthier.”.

2 Then make a list, not a single target

Now that you have your highest intention, look for how you will check that your intention is becoming reality: “How will I know I have succeeded?
And make it a list. So once you’ve answered to the question, ask yourself: “How else will I know I have succeeded?“.

Because, defining your success too specifically is indeed a recipe for failure. If Bob has only “loosing twenty kilos” as a proof of success, he is blind to many other amazing things that can happen, and he is making it difficult to succeed.

Let’s say he has this list instead: “Get rid of cravings, and digest better, and sleep better, and feel more alert, and loose some kilos”. This is still a recipe for failure.

Can you see why? Because until everything on this list is happening, he won’t be satisfied. So make a list, but don’t link the items with “and”, use “or”: Be happy for every single thing on that list that is happening.

Eventually if every item is checked, it is a huge success, but when one is true, you are already creating your intention. And there is nothing more motivating to go on, than feeling like we are making progress.

Other episodes of the “Start a sustainable intentional year (and decade)” series:

Resources cited in the conversation

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